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Oak Harbor’s ‘oldest living grad’ from ‘31 ready for reunion Saturday
This weekend, Oak Harbor High School’s graduating classes from 1959 and earlier will gather for a reunion at the Elks Lodge.
Among the 180-plus people attending will be longtime Oak Harbor resident Reka (Van Wieringen) Adamson, who will be marking the 80th anniversary of her senior graduation.
Reka was one of 11 students in the class of 1931.
“As far as we know, she’s the oldest living graduate of Oak Harbor High School,” Reka’s son, and event organizer, Ed Adamson said.
Reka, who’s 97 years old, moved to Whidbey Island from Holland when she was two years old. She came over with her father and entered the country through Ellis Island. Reka said school life looked a lot different in her time.
Her high school stood where Oak Harbor Elementary School is currently located and she said she walked miles and miles to school every day from her family’s farm on Fort Nugent Road.
“Farmers put benches in the back of their trucks so the kids could ride on them during the winter,” Ed explained. “They didn’t have buses there in those days.”
Reka said the small size of her class allowed them to do a lot of different things and kept the members close throughout the years. She said there was a familial feel to the school.
“It was a really wonderful school,” Reka said. “We had home ec classes, and we had to feed the visiting football teams before they’d go home on game days.”
Ed, who graduated in 1951, said his high school years also differed greatly from the Wildcats’ experiences today. Because his class only had 33 kids, he said everybody could play every sport and since there were no burger joints for teenagers to get jobs at, they all pitched in together on local farms.
“A lot of people worked for my dad,” he said.
The Elks Lodge reunions have been taking place for about the last 20 years and Ed said a good time is always had by all, though it’s sad to see the number of living graduates declining. Because the classes are getting so small, the organizers decided to combine them all together rather than have individual celebrations.
“We put name tags on or else we’d never recognize each other,” Ed said. “We do a lot of visiting and a lot of talking and we say things like, ‘Well you’re still here? How about that!’”
Ed said everyone from the graduating classes up through 1959 is invited to attend a dinner on Saturday, Aug. 14, and a brunch the following Sunday. He can be reached by calling 929-4174.